Maybe one day I’ll write about all the reasons we are homeschooling (if only to help convince the hubby…) but in the meantime, lets talk curriculum. Warning, there’s lots of words here…

First, yes, my son is only four. There is definitely a great argument to just let him play all day and imagine, create…not make him ‘do formal school’….but my kids like school time. When left to their own devices, they sometimes get into a little trouble (“let’s jump from the top of the closet, charwot!”) or they beg to watch cartoons. Or just eat all day. When we add a little structure in through school time, they get awesome mommy attention, learn something new, are entertained, not bored, and make good use of play time still. We play outside everyday whether on the playground, riding bikes, walking the dog, or all of the above…and we play dress up everyday too. Sometimes we are pirate ballerinas, sometimes a fireman who cooks…and usually there is some sort of game created by the two kiddos like a birthday party where everyone potties before they can have cake or some sort of race involving bells and carts….who knows. I love having kids so close in age to each other (18.5 months, by the way) that really love playing with each other.

In recent weeks, now that we have firmed up our decision to ‘continue’ homeschooling (as opposed to enrolling Dex in VPK), I have been deciding which curriculum we will use. The amount of choices out there are overwhelming to say the least. I’m lucky to have friends to quiz and just a love for curriculum in general from my former life in the school system.

First, I decided what my goals would be and how I wanted our week to look. Our experience this past year provided a glimpse. The curriculum we used had a lot of pieces and a lot of repetition. That ended up being a bad thing for us, since Dex got bored. There wasn’t any sort of arc to follow….just here this is, try it. Some things he got right away (puzzles, sorting sizes, memorizing his verse) and some things he didn’t (cutting, pattern recognition, counting) but now at the end of the year, he doesn’t struggle with anything from the activities presented. Could just be a years growth, but practice certainly helped. The problem was, the activities that he was really great at were too boring and got skipped. The ones that presented a challenge were too hard and got skipped….he didn’t want to stick with it and would take long breaks. I feel it was because he knew his strengths and weaknesses already, and being shown the same thing turned him off. Having learned that, I knew I wanted a curriculum that was more conventional and followed some sort of scope, not the same thing every week. I think the one we tried probably works best as enriching work for a younger sibling while older children are working.

I first decided what subjects we would cover. Phonics/reading of course, since he is now at the stage where he recognizes all his letters and their sounds, I think we are ready to blend them together. And math for sure. I picked programs for those first. For phonics, we are planning to do All About Reading. As far as which level, I’m still up in the air. I think for now we will start with pre-reading and see how he does. If he is bored, we will move up to level 1, but as long as he enjoys it, we’ll stick with it. I don’t want to start him out on level 1 since it seems a lot of people use it for 6-8 year olds…and I don’t want to push him too hard. Our goal is to have fun and cultivate a love of learning, not have a super advanced kid. For math, I have chosen RightStart Math level 1. I like the heavy use of manipulatives and the particular approach it takes. We have already started working on it and Dexter absolutely loves it and begs to do ‘more games in the big book.’ I also have Miquon (orange) and Math U See Primer to mix in if we choose, but mostly to keep things flexible. So far, I’m not a Math U See fan.

I’m hoping we will cover math and phonics 3 days a week. Each subject will maybe take 20-40 minutes, so plenty of time for other things, too.

I also chose to get Exploring Science from Elemental Science. I was originally considering just making up my own unit studies for science, doing some Pinterest style activities and reading library books about a subject….but really, that might end up being a bit overwhelming and leaving me feeling underprepared. There is a two day a week option with the program, and that’s what we will try to do. Dexter loves science and learning how things work, just like every 4 year old I imagine, so I want to help his inquisitive mind think scientifically.

I decided to go with Handwriting Without Tears (kindergarten edition, though I have pre k in case he wants to take a step back) to keep up our handwriting practice. We will just fit this in wherever it makes the most sense.

We have Five in a Row Volumes 1 and 2 as well, in case we want to fit that in. Or need inspiration for books to choose. I don’t think I’m ambitious enough to take on making lap books or anything for it, but I like that we would learn about some geography, history, and world cultures.

I will continue having him try sports out at the Y and sing, dance, and play music with me at home (once upon a time I was a musician after all) and we will also keep up with our calendar and memory verse. There will be plenty of time to draw, color and paint. We will make trips to the library to check out non fiction books about other cultures and places. I will also make sure he gets to visit with his friends often, too. My goal for myself is to cut back on unnecessary time away from home, running errands or just being gone for no good reason. Or taking on too much at home that diverts my attention away from Dex and Char.

Ah, yes….there is little sister of course, too. She will participate in school time as well, mostly using the letter of the week activities that little man used this past year. She will read with us, too, of course, and I have plenty of other activities to keep her occupied when D might need more of my attention. Usually she just wants to do everything big brother is doing.

So that’s the plan. Seems like a lot, I know…..but my plan as of now is to do school from around August through October, take a break through most of November and December, then pick back up in January through April. Wherever he ends up is fine, we just pick back up and reassess for the next year.

Anyone else choosing materials? Now is the time since many families are finished for the year and selling what they used. Curriculum swaps abound!